Blog - Woodruff and Colleagues

ncreasing Team Productivity

Are you feeling “stuck” in your job?  With the start of a new year are you “itching” to do something new?  What’s holding you back?  Fear?  Money?  Comfort?  I urge you to take a step back and really think about what it is you would really love to do.  Is it your natural behavioural style or motivator that’s stopping you from dreaming?  It’s good to recognize that, and even better that you realize we can all step outside our comfort zone for a few moments at a time without it being too stressful.  We actually do it all the time.


It’s also important to understand that in a city ravaged with layoffs, your morale may be under attack.  We hear it on the news, people talk to you about it all the time.  It’s pretty difficult to ignore the fact that so many have lost their jobs, and even more difficult to be brave enough to give one up for ultimate happiness.  What happens, though, when you don’t.  When you just prod along, do the work, go home, and fall back into bad habits that, were you happy with what you spent 8 hours a day, 5 days a week doing, you’d probably give up…maybe even without realizing you’ve given those bad habits up.


When it hurts to get out of bed, when you find yourself “grumpy” at work and taking it out on your colleagues, when you’ve had about all you can take from the “so-called” leader of your team, when it’s affecting your sleep, your eating, your weight, and ultimately, your health, isn’t it time to reach out and have an assessment of your situation done?  Uncover the dream and discover the happiness you’ve been missing.  Contact us and let’s talk about you and where you’d like to go!  Don’t wait!  2020 is ticking away.

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It is being predicted that more and more companies will be hiring people to work remotely in the 2020’s and beyond.  Why?  Environmental issues are predicted to reduce the number of vehicles in a family to 1, and why not leave that in the driveway. Furthermore, the company encouraging this is believed to be displaying corporate responsibility.  Real-estate cost savings is another predicted plus for companies.  The opportunity to recruit the best talent…world-wide.  Less distraction and more focus.  Life-work balance meaning less stress and better health (and productivity).  More jobs accessible to those workers requiring accessibility.  These are but a few reasons, and although we probably won’t see an immediate, radical change to remote working, this is what is predicted.


So, how does a company hold a team together when this is the case?  How do we know the worker isn’t slacking off while in the comfort of their own home office?  How do we ensure the work gets done when the employees aren’t collaborating face-to-face?  How do we guarantee there is no break-down in communication that can have a project rapidly spiral downwards?  How do we build a team that is strong when we don’t see employees interacting?  All good, viable questions.


When a company takes the time to hire exceptional employees, ones that are passionate about their work, the employer can rest assured that employee is actually working much more productively than when in the office.  This is because there are less distractions, and less time taken to “make it look like” they’re working.  When measurable objectives are in place, it’s very easy to ensure the work is getting done.  When projects are tracked properly, it’s quite obvious when there is a break-down in communication, and it can be nipped in the bud before a catastrophe occurs.  Building a team that is strong takes only the effort to provide team-building opportunities at a remote location.


You might want to start building your plan to have employees work remotely, and when looking to deal with the communication, collaboration, and productivity issues, contact us.  We’ll help you recruit, build, and retain exceptional employees while lowering your costs of hiring.

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When was the last time you were happy in your work environment?  I’m talking about walking around the office with a bounce in your step, a positive outlook on the day, a smile on your face, a compliment to a colleague, a laugh about a situation.  Can you remember the last time?


What’s stopping you from being happy at work?  Do you have a supervisor who frowns upon laughter in the workplace?  Is the atmosphere at work one of a toxic environment?  Are you depressed?  Not feeling challenged?  Lacking the reward that motivates you to action?  Are you not getting the results you anticipated from your efforts?  Whatever it is, it’s high time you understand the importance of happiness, not only in your work and workplace, in life overall.  It’s just one of those factors that affects the level of productivity on a team, and when lacking, it costs the company you work for money.  This cost reveals itself, among other things, in poor performance, accumulation of sick days, contagious negativity, and can lead to increased attrition, as unhappy employees plan to leave, and increased costs of hiring to replace an employee.


Happiness is a choice.  You may not believe that, but like many things in life, it is a choice.  Now I’m not talking about depression, which can be the symptom of a number of things.  I’m talking about a mindset where you can look at a situation and see the positive in it, or the negative.  The humour, or the despair.  Which do you choose, and do you choose this consistently?


Choices are habits, and habits we can control.  We have to choose to choose, and even though it isn’t always easy, the more you choose happiness, the more often you will be happy.  When was the last time you were happy in your work environment?  Choose to change that habit.  Need help?  Contact us.

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When the team is strained the profit is drained.  Here are 4 steps to take the strain from the team and the drain from your profit.


A recent health issue in my family introduced me to a well-known charity group that I found very beneficial at this time.  I was interested in becoming a volunteer with this group and sent an email to the coordinator.  Over the course of 2 months, through several emails and one voicemail, I have yet to receive an appointment to see what role would work best for both parties.  It took an average of 4 days to get a response to any email.  By the time I did get a response, the situation had always changed.  It was a very frustrating experience and, in the end, I just gave up.  I felt sad I wasn’t able to give back.  I question if the coordinator enjoys their work.  Ultimately, I am curious as to how many amazing volunteers they have lost because of the behaviour of one staff member.  Is this a “bad” employee?


A bad employee arrives late and leaves early.  They make negative comments about other employees.  They want their birthdays off.  They want weekends off.  They aren’t motivated to show up, do the work, and put in the time.  They want to be CEO and when they aren’t given that opportunity, they don’t quit…they ghost.  They just quit coming in.  These employees are costing every company they work for money.  When companies lose money, they shut down.  They no longer provide employment.  This means your children will have less opportunity to earn a living. 


What can be done?


1) Find these employees:

Conduct an anonymous survey of your team to flush out problem employees.Have a team assessment conducted.


2) Determine their attitude to change:

Take the time to get to know if the problem employee is in a position that suits their natural behaviour style and workplace motivators.  If they are, have the discussion with them about what you would like to see in the future.  If they aren’t, let them go.


3) Re-train them: 

Assign a mentor.Institute a follow-up program that measures outcomes.


4) Nurture them:

Ask for their feedback.  Ask for their ideas for improvement.  Nurture all your employees.


Employees who cause problems in the workplace cost the company enormous amounts of money.  Take the 4 steps of finding these employees, assessing their attitude to change, investing in re-training them or let them go, and nurture them…all of them.   You take these 4 steps, and you increase your profit.

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My employment history has involved over 40 positions in more than 15 industries.  Back in 1985 I was told in a mock interview that this pattern of jumping from one job to another was dangerous to potential employers.  I chuckled under my breath as I knew that this was the beginning of change in the workplace and there would be fewer and fewer people willing to commit to 25+ years in one position.  I could already see how business was veering away from loyalty to employees, even witnessing those who were let go within 1 or 2 years of their 25-year anniversary.  No more gold watches.


In her TEDx talk, Emilie Wapnick supports those people who aren’t called to one profession.  She coins the term “Multipotentialite”.  Referring to personal experience, she identifies a pattern (10:50) whereby she would dive into work that was interesting, get bored, then find a new interest.  The idea that she should have a passion for only one line of work frightened her, made her feel like an outcast.  She goes on to identify 3 benefits that a multipotentialite brings to the table; Idea synthesis (5:19), Rapid learning (4:22), and Adaptability (3:11).  Also honouring the person who is called to one passion, she suggests that the pairing of a specialist with a multipotentialite can lead to amazing possibilities.

When I work with teams we use the DISC behavioural analysis to identify preferred behaviour styles.  Over-representation of one style can lead to a multitude of problems, the most dangerous being a lack of creativity and innovation.  Once we establish a balance of preferred behaviour styles on a team, we look at what motivates each team member to action.  My suspicion is that Emilie Wapnick is highly theoretically motivated, which means she needs a challenge or to be constantly learning things.  As one of my top two motivators, I can relate.


About 5 months ago, a 5-year-old close to my heart asked me “What do you think I should be?”.  I answered “I think you should be happy.”.  She responded “No, you know when I work.”.  My response to that was “Well, you can be whatever you want to be, but you must still be sure to be happy.”.  Emilie Wapnick and I agree on that.

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When working at a collection lab, where we collected specimens and data, I was part of a team of approximately 8 people (the numbers fluctuated while I was at this place of employment), and we were all committed to having fun while at work.  It was important as we were extremely busy (we processed more than 200 clients per day), the environment was fast-paced and often stressful for the clients.  We would joke with each other and with clients, hoping that laughter would help to calm them.  It worked for the most part.  As a team, this laughter tightened camaraderie, increased creativity, lightened the atmosphere, and increased productivity.  As we worked 10-hour shifts, laughter helped the time to fly, and much more enjoyable.  For the clients, it boosted their trust and confidence in our team, and their overall experience was a pleasant one.


According to a Harvard Business Review*, “laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration, but also analytic precision and productivity.” And “that cracking jokes at work can make people seem more competent.”.  Why am I not surprised?!  One of my favourite magazines, Fast Company, supports the increased productivity and creativity theory** when citing a “2009 study [that] people are more likely to be better at problem solving if they are in a better mood.”.  If you consider the jobs you’ve had in your lifetime, how many of them allowed for fun at work?  I’ve had several jobs and, in some workplaces, fun was frowned upon.  The leaders and managers thought that if there was fun, there must not be productivity.  How wrong they were!  Not only did staff more often call in sick, they wanted out of that workplace as quickly as possible.  This leads to high attrition, shortage of staff, work not getting done, customers unhappy, and a hit on the bottom line.


If you’d like some ideas on how to encourage humour in the workplace, click here.


The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.


*Source:, June 18, 2019

**Source:, June 18, 2019

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The first experience I had in regards to the importance of continuously learning was back in the mid ‘80’s.  Before this I used to think learning ended with the completion for a degree.  That said, I also realized that I had been continuously learning ever since I finished school!  In the later years I learned that being challenged, or continuously learning was actually one of my top 2 motivators, and whenever I was in a working position that didn’t provide challenge or learning, I didn’t last very long.  Continuous learning in 2019 is much more important and this is because of the speed at which technology has the world changing.  Particularly the world of work.


In most companies gone are the days where an employee simply gets up, eats, gets to work, and begins to do the same monotonous tasks day after day after day.  Employers today want to hire innovators, people who are creative, and who are not afraid to speak up with ideas that could propel company profits, and contribute to the longevity of the company.  There are few industries that technology hasn’t pushed toward the necessity of continuous learning.  Accountants are expected to provide creative alternatives to their clients.  Doctors are required to have awareness of the most up-to-date testing equipment and pharmaceuticals available to their patients.  Construction personnel need to be up to date on the latest safety standards, not only for buildings, but also for their staff, who also need to be aware of the latest safest tools and how to use them.  So rare is an industry that doesn’t need to be continuously learning, you need only look to the manufacturing companies who have turned to artificial intelligence for the rote, monotonous work, and hire highly educated people who are creative and innovative and will take their company to the highest efficiency level possible…for 2019…because what is possible next year will be even more exciting.


If you would like 5 ideas on how to keep your employees continuously learning, click here.


The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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A friend and colleague of mine who was participating in an HR certification program, upon completion of their first class, came into the office and wrote on their whiteboard “Employees are a company’s greatest asset”.  Few in business have not heard this, however does everyone who doesn’t own and operate their own business realize that your people are also one of your greatest expenses?  Entrepreneurs are well aware of the “hidden” costs of hiring, yet many employees are surprised to discover the cost to the company is goes far beyond their hourly wage.  Even business owners who hire sometimes neglect to consider the additional costs when an employee’s behaviour, attitude, and actions lead to the loss of customers.


It seems that some employees believe a job is just a job, that the employer doesn’t “own” them, and they should be able to behave in any way they wish when not on the company clock.  There can be a problem with this in the times that the employee is wearing work-labeled clothing and behaving in a less than respectable way.  One example is when the employee from Hydro 1 made disrespectful and rude comments at a sporting event as they were being filmed.  That employee lost their job with that behaviour.  And there are several examples since the onset of the “Me too” movement.  One can’t blame an employer for reprimanding an employee given the probability of their behaviour leading to bad publicity, defamed reputation, and possible consumer boycotting.  It can take months, even years, before the company regains the trust of consumers and this is often a deep cut to their profits.  Employees would be wise to understand that they represent the company they work for and they have the power to influence the people they connect with in a way that might actually lead to an increase in customers, company profits, and the opportunity for advancement…because they are now a great asset.


For the actual costs of employees to employers click here.


The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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If you’ve ever worked in a toxic work environment, you will understand the effect it has on productivity.  I once worked for a company with a team of 9 individuals with 2 people sharing the Supervisor position.  Overall, we got along very well and the service we provided was exceptional.  There were, however, two personnel who weren’t happy unless they were stirring the pot.  They would speak to one another in whispers, glance sideway at another staff member and giggle, just genuinely rude behaviour.  Some might refer to them as the workplace bullies.  Whenever they were working, the Supervisors faced staff issues as they would put in a complaint about one thing or another that wasn’t substantiated, just wasted time and upsetting morale.  This company lost their major contract to a competitor, and these were the only two people who weren’t offered a position with the new company.  This speaks volumes to the degree a company might have to go to in re-establishing a healthy work environment.


What often happens in a toxic environment is nobody wants to acknowledge the problem(s) that one or two staff members are causing.  Other staff members don’t want to “squeal” on their colleagues, and management either isn’t aware of the noxious behaviour, or they are so uncomfortable addressing it that they choose to ignore it.  They often self-justify the behaviour isn’t a problem if no-one on the team is complaining about it.  The consequences of this non-action, however, is the company often ends up losing top performers to their competition.  I know of no company who has more staff than is needed, so if one of your team members leaves, that means you have to replace them, and those costs can be as high as one and a half times the employee’s annual salary.  Although uncomfortable, the only solution is the address poor behaviours on the team, and establish policies to deal with them.

If you wonder if your team has anyone displaying poor behaviour that leads to a toxic work environment, click here to see 5 discreet signs of a toxic work environment.


The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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A Manger/Leader once shared with me one of their interview experiences when in a hiring situation.  They told me they went to reception, greeted the candidate, and asked them to follow them to the office where the interview was to take place.  Once in the office the Manager/Leader walked to their chair at the desk and asked the candidate to have a seat.  Upon turning around the Manager/Leader discovered that not only had the candidate joined them in their office, but also the candidate’s parent.  The Manager/Leader was completely taken off-guard.  There wasn’t even a second chair in the office, and they scrambled to retrieve one from a colleague’s office.  Needless to say, the candidate was not offered a position with the company.


Of course, I was shocked to hear of this Manager’s/Leader’s experience, even though I’d previously heard of similar situations.  Apparently, it was during what was known as the “helicopter parent” era.  Now, the Manager/Leader I heard from conducted the interview despite the situation, even though they knew they wouldn’t hire this candidate.  This is not how I would have handled it.  I like to think that, upon discovering that the parent had accompanied their child into the interview room, the first words out of my mouth would have been “Well, this concludes the interview.  Thank you for your time, and I wish you all the best in your job search.”.  This is because I know the cost of my time with candidates, and I despise waste of any kind, particularly of money.  And, time is money.  If, as would likely happen, there were questions about why I wasn’t going to conduct an interview, I would have but one statement, and that is “I need a person who is able to work independently.  I appreciate your immediate honesty in displaying this is not a skill that you (or that your child) does not possess.”.  If this seems too harsh to you, I admit that it took some time for me to realize that, when coaching clients, I do them no favour by allowing unprofessional, or inappropriate, conduct.  I call a spade a spade, and explain why the behaviour is unacceptable, and how to behave in a more appropriate fashion. 


If you would like to know 3 major mistakes that candidates make in formal job interviews, click here.


The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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